My Green Finger Project

Sometime last year in June, I remembered vividly how enchanted I was each time I step into Corrie’s Garden (Jos’ Stepmother). From Spring Time onwards, Corrie’s garden will be blooming with lots of different kind of lowers, Rose, Lilies and some others I don’t know the names to it. But they all look so beautiful, I can sit in the garden for hours!

Because I kept singing praises about how beautiful those flowers looks, Corrie had kindly offered to teach me the art of gardening. She start by asking me, “what do you like in your garden?” In our case a balcony. Without much thoughts, because I already know what I like all this time, I answered, “I want lots of Tulips and many sunflowers!” At this point, I didn’t know there is a season to every kind of flowers. Tulips never survive till summer and Sunflowers never blossom in Spring! I also didn’t realize, these seeds takes so much time, so much effort for them to grow to finally blossom.

I’d planted some sunflower seeds (bought in Holland) back in Singapore and it grew within two weeks but didn’t grow so big. A picture of the sunflower below and that is the biggest it went and then it slowly withered away. But then in Singapore, we have no seasons. It is summer every day!

That was the max it went.

At that time, Corrie had draw up a plan (really sweet of her). She decided that we should first start with the Tulips in October and then start with the Sunflower sometime in March. So we did. We went to the shop in Dordrecht that sells all kinds of seeds. According to Corrie, this shop has high quality seeds so chances of success is higher.

Today, I share with you my pride. Although most of the work is done by Corrie, I’m still proud of our achievement. ­čÖé

Here are the photos of the tulips that blossom during spring time. The seeds was put in the soil since October. According to Corrie, these tulips bulbs must be froze for a period of time before they come out in Spring time. And I’m suppose to get more Tulips every year if these bulbs are good.

Tulips Buds

Coming up really nicely. See those little pink too?

Pretty Tulips lining up

And then after spring, the petals of these tulips dropped off one after another. Very sad to see! Until there is no more left! In the end they are left with a green stalk and no flowers. At this point, we wait for the next seasons.

In February, Corrie & Piet give me a little green house for my birthday! That was the 2nd part of my green finger project where we start with the sunflowers. I was beaming with joy! At the same time, I’m still skeptical of the greenness of my fingers. Oh well, I would just go for it.

So with this little green house, I’m suppose to control the temperature so as to make sure the sunflower grows healthily. Not too much water, not too much heat.

See the Water vapors? This little green house is heated.

And it grew and grew so fast until I have lost control of it.

Because I was not good with the controlling of the temperature and the water levels, these sunflower just grew too fast for me to handle. They were all over the place and hanging downwards as if they were dying. Of course I panic ! It’s like a mother watching the children drowning.

In the end, the whole little green house was transported back to the MASTER (Corrie) to take care of it. See, here, Corrie is like the doctor, I’m a lost mother trying to take care of a weak child (in this case – Children, because there is so many of them sprouting !).

The professional did not fail to uphold her professionalism. Every time I visit the plant, they just grew stronger. They always look better each time. The stems are thicker, the leaves are greener, they just look healthier. After that I leave for our summer holiday. And when we return, this is what we saw:

This is just one of them.

And another… .

There are alot of them standing tall in Corrie’s Garden. really beautiful. Before my summer holiday, Corrie already potted some for me to bring home so I can enjoy them as well. However, those in our balcony didn’t work out so well.

Here are the pictures of those in our balcony:

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Did you notice some of the buds aren’t blossoming? I’ve given water everyday and wait everyday for it to blossom. It seems to me that’s how far it will grow. It will never blossom…

Call me emotional, but I feel kinda sad to see that some seeds just don’t survive the growth process. It happens to all living thing. Even as human, some fetus just don’t come through as human. They lost it half way. That’s sad. But I guess, that’s just life.

Last Sunday, I harvest some roses from Nelly’s Garden (Jos’ mum) for our home, look! they are beautiful

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Till next year.. see you again beautiful blossoms!

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My Surprise Trip

As the title has reveal, it is no surprise that the beloved boyfriend decided to give me a surprise by booking us a trip to Prague! Of which, I am very surprised! Jos had picked Prague because I’ve been asking to visit a few┬ámany places and Prague was kinda top in my list. So you can all imagine how much happiness I felt just hearing “we are going to Prague” from him!

He had booked the weekend before Queen’s Day so that we only need to take 2 days off from work and spend a good 4 days in Prague. And┬ácoincidentally, Transavia has an early morning departure and a late night return. So that makes it a good 5 days! Check out Transavia.com or download their application on your┬áiPhone┬áso you won’t miss any special offers they might have!

Taking off with Transavia!

The flying time was a mere 1 hour and 5 mins from Rotterdam The Hague Airport to Prague. Because we only carry hand luggage, we could walk in and out of the airport quite fuss free! That must be the beauty of travelling light only until you realise you run out of clothes to wear and need to buy new ones! (Commonly my excuse ­čÖé )

We stayed at Best Western Hotel in the central of Prague where every where is within walking distances, that is if you think 10-15km is walking distance. For me and Jos, we travel by feet whenever possible because that is when we see whole lot more than being in a tram or metro. By feet, we walked to and across the Charles Bridge, take a drink, and at some point, we pass by John Lennon Wall and then walk on to the bottom of Pethrin hill, took the tram ride up the hill and walk back down hill and back to the Bridge, walk around the square and back to the hotel and fall flat on our face back at the hotel room. Despite the painful feet… it was fun ­čÖé

Here are some of the pictures I took of our trip, the pictures definitely┬ádoesn’t bring up the actual beauty of the place but this is like the best I can do with an iPhone! ­čÖé

The first enchanting view of Prague was of course the Charles Bridge. At every corner of the bridge, you will be able to enjoy the breath-taking view of Prague. Jos would always point out to me and say, “oh, and there is the Pethrin Hill” and “Look there is where we were yesterday at the other side of the hill.” ┬áCharles Bridge although really crowded, I have no problem standing there the whole day just enjoying the view and the vibrant within. It was really beautiful.

The first time I came across the John Lennon Wall, there was no one in sight. I wasn’t sure if we were lucky but it was a Friday and we had the wall all to ourselves! I didn’t knew it was John Lennon Wall until later but WOW, it’s such beautiful piece of wall art!

John Lennon Wall

At the bottom of the Pethrin hill stands the statues of the Memorial of the Victims of Communism. I was trying to take a picture of it but there was a group of man crowding around it for a very long time…. so below is a picture from WIKI! You will see the statue starts with a full human body and ends with almost nothing at the back.

I didn’t have a good picture of this so I took this from wiki! ­čÖé

Pethrin Hill is oh so enchanting. Another place I can stay for a very long time and not feel bored. Even though there is nothing much you can do, but the smell of spring, the serenity of the environment and the soft green grass just makes you stay. Although the tram ride up is always full but when you are up there, you can easily find a quiet spot where you can have some quiet time from the crowd. We lied down on the soft grass like everyone else did for a good hour ! Sun shining but so relaxing and nice!

That’s me on the grass… do you also feel the softness of the grass?

At the top of the Pethrin hill stands a Look-Out Tower resembling the Eiffel Tower in Paris but much smaller. So I call it MINI Eiffel.

Mini Eiffel @ Pethrin Hill, Prague

The Tram coming up the hill.

Full of beautiful White Trees!

View from Pethrin Hill

Charles Bridge @ Sundown…

Old Town Square

Another place not to be missed is the Prague Castle, in czech, they call it Prazsky Hrad. A castle with a Cathedral within. The Cathedral is huge standing right after the entrance of the Castle, beautifully sculptured. Oh and its called St Vitus Cathedral. ­čÖé

Arriving @ Prague Castle with style! ­čśÇ

In Prague, there is no fear of connectivity. Prague must be one of the only European Union Country that has free WIFI at almost every restaurant and shopping mall. I love them for being so generous with their WIFI, although some restaurant protech them with password, but as long as you eat in the restaurant, they will reveal the password without you even asking! Too Cool.

Besides the free wifi, there were tons of food choices. Other than Czech Cuisine, there are also wide range of other choices, Japanese, Chinese, Thai & Indian food are commonly found. We didn’t try the Japanese or Chinese but their Indian food is really good!

The typical Czech Cuisine are the Duck & the Beef Goulash. I’d tried the Duck and Jos tried the Beef ┬áGoulash on our first night there. We both agree, although the meat was okay but the potato dumpling looks and taste weird.

1/4 Dutck with Red Cabbage & Potato Dumpling.

Beef Goulash

We did have so much fun while in Prague and I’m already missing the fun. Now, I don’t want to be abrupt but this post will get too lengthy for reading pleasure. So I will stop here. Please come back and read the next episode title “A SURPRISE IN A SURPRISE!”

Signing off with Love, J

SUN-Day

It’s spring time in the Netherlands! While the weather can be crazily unpredictable, last Sunday was really quite a SUN day. Jos was suppose to do his regular speed cycling but had decide to ride with me on his city bike due to my┬áenthusiasm to go on the bike which is considered, RARE! ­čśŤ

So he had to planned a route that he think I could handle and be able to ride back home so he don’t have to ride 2 bikes home. ­čÖé I think he really think quite highly of me because we took a route of about 12km. It is nothing to him of course since he can easily do 50km.. maybe more. But I think 3km for me on the bike is considered a challenge because I’ve never really gone that far on 2 wheels. I guessed because the ride was┬ápleasantly smooth, I didn’t really feel any strain on my legs. I enjoyed the sun and the wind, top with the beautiful scenery my eyes caught sight of. The ride just gives me a very relaxing feel, a feeling I’ve not felt for a very long time.

So I thought I’ve seen all of ┬áDordrecht, I┬ádefinitely┬áhave not. ┬áI didn’t imagine Dordrecht to have such cycling path that is out of the city, minimal cars with loads of cows, sheep and beautiful nature.

Our Ride

The Scenery along the way.

I had to stop to capture all the beauties because I cannot really ride with one hand... not yet!

After an hour on the bike, I felt a little tired and each time I’d asked Jos how long more, ┬áhe had to lied that it’s 10 minutes away from the cafe where we would stop for a drink. I know it isn’t 10 minutes but I had to choose to believe the lie because I really do enjoy the ride. Next, we saw the sheep lying on the green pasture enjoying the sun on a sunny Sunday. The sight is too pleasing to my eyes, I cannot stop taking pictures of the cute lambs.

Look at that! Too Cute!

 

And this! Heart warming!

And then, finally, we arrived at the long awaited cafe! And I was really pleased. Small, Cosy and really nice! We sat outside because the weather was too good to hide in the cafe.

Fluitekruid Dordrecht - A small cafe for bikers and hikers

Up close and personally to a tree full of little birds.

With a very nice view!

So yes, what a SUN day I had. Thanks to Jos and my little red bike for the adventure! Hearts Much! ÔŁĄ

Four Seasons Versus One Season

Being a Singaporean, experiencing the four seasons is only possible if we travel to countries with four season. The thing about living in Singapore is there is only 1 ┬áseason, ┬ásummer all year round! Its either sunny or rainy but it will stay humid. So, in order for us to experience four seasons…. we travel! Some think its good because then we don’t have to live with the nasty winter storm but I think its boring to only have 1 season.

This summer, me and Jos spend our holiday in Italy and France for a good three weeks. While I cannot stop applying that SPF 50 sunblock on my face, neck, hands, leg and any part of my body that was  exposed to the sun, I can never understand why Jos enjoys lying by the pool, reading a book under the very hot sun without a shirt on. I will only go with him if he can find me a shade from a big tree, big building or whatever that block me from the sun. Strange Singapore girl I am!

All my life, I’ve never really thought I would be able to experience all four seasons because travelling isn’t cheap. But by now, being in Holland every now and then, I realise I have experienced all four seasons which to my delight, I found them quite amazing and really liked them.

Some time in late December last year, almost Christmas time, I experienced winter in Holland. Also the same time where many dutchie are hoping for white Christmas and they did!

The last I experienced snow was 10 years ago in London but this just feels different. Maybe because I was in London with my sister and this time, in Holland with my love. Guess that’s what makes it different. Despite the cold, I actually enjoy the beautiful view of white.

According to a few Dutch friends, this time of the year is also the time where suicide rate goes up due to depression from the cold winter. That I can never understand…. whoever kills themselves because of the weather? ┬áAnd then I read about S.A.D. – Seasonal Affective Disorder.┬áStrange world!

Its really nice to sip on hot coffee on the couch and looking out of the window, watching the snow. I totally enjoy that. And then, winter ends.

Sometime in end March, its Spring time in Holland. ┬áThe white snow are gone, I don’t see white anymore. But,┬áI awe at the sight of beautiful flowers just about any where I go. ┬á The view of the country is once again different but still beautiful. There isn’t alot of sun in Holland, so even during spring time, it is still cold at least for me.

As its the first time I experienced Spring in Holland, I had to visit Keukenhof! So we did… all of the flowers everywhere, the whole field full of colorful tulips didn’t stop catching my eyes.

It is also at this time of the year, the Dutchie does ski-ing on the alps. We did ours at Les Menuires, France. Drove 10 hours to the Alps, enjoyed a week of ski-ing and back to Holland to enjoy Spring Time! If you ask me…. this is Life! I cannot imagine what Singaporeans are missing out, not being able to enjoy these beautiful changing seasons.

And then sometime in late March, early April, Jos turns his clock backwards by an hour. We call that Daylight savings and then Summer came… sometime in June! This day light saving thingy never fail to makes me wonder, why is there a need to do that but now I know. It did feels really strange.

Experiencing Summer Time in Holland for the first time yet again. Each day passes I began to understand why the dutchies loves summer. In my own perception, I think the dutch loves summer because:

1) The sky only starts turning dark at about 930pm and super pitch dark @ 1030pm. And the sun rise at 4am at some point of time! To me that is really cool! Can you imagine the amount of day light they enjoy?

2) To top it up. Summer in Holland is not necessary all sun. Some days, they have nice cool breeze with Sun. Some days they have only SUN and Some days they have horrible rain and thunder storm. (Unpredictable Dutch Weather!)

3) And its also the time where the Dutchies escape from the cold lowlands to other part of Europe where there is just full sunshine! It is also this time of the year the Dutch have long summer holiday from 2-4 or even 6 weeks for the retirees.


See me in cardigan and Freek in just shorts and T-shirt! He is a toughie and me… just a city girl from Singapore who feels cold even with cold breeze. But Summer time and ┬ácold breeze are lovely weather!

This is also the time where there are nice harvest in many of the Dutchies’ garden. I remembered clearly the amazing time I have just harvesting from Hilde’s (Jos’ Sister) prune tree sitting on Jos’ shoulder, the strawberries from Nelly’s (Jos’ Mum) Garden and helping Piet (Jos’ Dad) harvest potatoes from his garden. Too fun and these vegetables and fruit just taste too good when its fresh from the Garden.

So yes, in deed, Summer time in Europe rocks! Now I know why they have long summer holiday and we don’t.

Soon Summer will end and the clock will be turn an hour ahead. The last I experienced Autumn in Holland was sometime in Oct 2009. I cannot clearly remember anything nice about Autumn but again I was only in Holland briefly then, so I cannot really remember. So, I feel a little sad I am gonna miss experiencing Autumn but Jos assured I am not missing much because its depressing to see leaves falling and the trees going all bald.

But fortunately, I am gonna be back in Holland in November this year and I should still experience Autumn in Holland before the Winter comes again. Here is a picture abstract from the web of Autumn in Holland.


So what is Autumn like? Is it really depressing? Brown, yellow and orange like falling leaves? What do you think?